The Native Americans: Almost the entire continent is covered by vast, beautiful, untouched forests; cultures, systems of belief, and a unique form of government; and Native American art forms such as pottery, basket weaving, carving, and feather work, or textiles. There are now at least 50 recognized Native American tribes in the US. They are now known as Indians in their homeland, where they account for only about 4% of the American Indian population. Red Indians now live mostly in reservations (the areas assigned for Indian use) that house more than three million people. Even though there are hundreds of millions of Indians in the world, Native Americans are one of the most rarely read and understood groups.
When did the Native Americans inhabit the Americas?
When Europeans first discovered America in 1513, the continent was inhabited by two tribes, the Quechua (pronounced coo-chay-uh), in South America, and the Arawak, the indigenous people of the Caribbean Islands. Then, by 1530, the European conquerors began pushing their way north and west, after defeating the native inhabitants. This led to an invasion of the region known as the Spanish Golden Age. Of course, not all tribes did die out during this period. Some groups adapted to the new conditions of the New World. In particular, a large number of “mixed” tribes (people of European and native Indian ancestry) lived in the Southwest. They became known as the Ute (pronounced ee-tah), Arapaho, Cheyenne, Navajo, Comanche, Arikara, Blackfeet, Crow, Gila, Meskwaki (Kiowa), and Apache.
When did they first arrive in the Americas?
About 12,000 BC, According to a new report from historians at the National Science Foundation, the earliest known humans to arrive in North America migrated from Siberia and were part of the Clovis culture, of a relatively small group called the Nanticoke-Delaware culture. However, what the newly discovered projectile point was discovered in a cave in Mexico may indicate that this group may have actually lived even earlier. The Smithsonian reported the discovery of the point, a massive black, biface that, at seven inches long and one inch wide, is considered “one of the oldest weapons ever found in North America” at about 11,900 years old. This would be a hundred years older than the oldest evidence of humans’ presence in the Americas.
The Four Tribes of the Red Indians
The Ojibwe, Anishinaabe (Choctaw, Haudenosaunee), and Tlingit represent the main groups of Native Americans in North America. The Tlingit have lived in Alaska, British Columbia, and on various islands in the Pacific for perhaps the most distant historical period. The Ojibwe live primarily in Canada. The Anishinaabe live in Manitoba and the United States. The Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, have spread out across Canada and the United States. The Anishinaabe and the Ojibwe were considered to be the leading nations among the Red Indians. Both groups used wooden canoes (oye-emas). They raised crops, hunted, and raised animals such as the white-tailed deer. The Anishinaabe moved many miles up the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River as far as New York.
The Great Migrations and Spread of Native Americans
The first group that reached the Americas was the Siouan Indians, who lived in the lands that today comprise eastern North America. The Siouan had small groups of closely related tribes, who lived a hunter-gatherer way of life. They depended on subsistence hunting, fishing, gathering, and plant gathering. A few of these Siouan tribes had apparently achieved a level of sophistication and had begun to create a written language.
Where are the Red Indians located?
Many of the Native American Indians are of the Algonquian language family. This group of languages includes the Siouan, Iroquoian, and Mohawk. These languages are spoken in Canada, the United States, and parts of Mexico. The largest groups of Indians are the Chickasaw and Choctaw, who live in Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. The Choctaw are the most widespread, with a total of about 35,000. The Comanche are the most numerous, with about 14,000. An estimated 4.5 million Native Americans still live in the United States. However, it is not known how many live in Mexico, Canada, or other places.
Red Indian religion and beliefs
From the very beginning, American Indians had many variations in their culture, customs, and religion. One of the most common changes in their religion occurred as a result of the emergence of Christianity. Some tribes did not completely convert to Christianity. Others kept their old traditional gods. But most people of both the eastern and western branches of Christianity began to call themselves “Christians.” Others converted to Judaism. Many Indians of the eastern branch of the American Indian church adopted the name Israelites, which they had already adopted as their original name. Furthermore, they generally rejected their original pantheon of gods in favor of Jesus Christ, whom they identified with Moses.
Generally, these tribes have developed their own traditional religious beliefs and philosophies. All of them generally believe that they are the chosen people. Even their chiefdoms (great political units) are called tribes. All of them believe they are being held back by outside forces. We all believe in our ancestors, but some traditions are much more important than others. The Cherokee say, for instance, that their ancestors are spirits, and they will see them again when the world has ended. Some Indians, such as the Sioux and Navajo, live in longhouses. These are large, semi-permanent structures, built of materials such as poles, grass, and bark. Longhouses are about 18 feet high, and 10 feet wide.
Moreover, the idea that all Native American Indians have the same language, customs, and beliefs is a myth. Furthermore, there are at least three major cultures of American Indians: the Plains Indians, those who are nomadic; the Plateau Indians, who live near the Rocky Mountains; and the Woodland Indians, who live in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Each group has its own unique rituals, dances, foods, and beliefs. Many tribes have very strict taboos and some, such as the Cheyenne and the Lakota Sioux, do not allow their children to marry outside their tribe. There are other tribal customs that set them apart. For example, some tribes are considered to be separate from “white” American Indians.
Furthermore, Native American beliefs are often different than ours. They believed that certain animal types were their enemies, like lions, tigers, and bears, or large predators like lions and tigers, whales and other large sea creatures, and wolves. The Anishinaabe people in Canada still believe in this belief. Wolves are considered to be bad. This belief in many Native American tribes is why there is a danger that game animals in their ancestral homelands are losing their survival skills. That is one of the reasons that our native animals are shrinking in numbers. Hunters from other countries are taking their home-grown game to native people, and breeding it. American Indians have always been hunters. It was normal to hunt for meat for survival.